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It's Ok To Feel Sad

Last Saturday Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Vietanamese Zen Buddhist monk, died. From his teachings around the world, to his books, to protesting the Vietnam war, he was one of the most influential Buddhists in Western culture. You can even read quotes from him on tea bags.

The world has lost a beautiful mind and so much wisdom. It is so sad when someone like him dies. He studied Buddhism in Vietnam before the country was Westernized and while the ancient traditions and practices lived on unchanged. We are currently living in a time when the last of this generation are alive and will soon die too. And the true teachings of the Buddha will be a bit further out of reach when that happens.

I can’t help but think of my time studying Buddhism in India right before I became severely sick with ME/CFS. I think of what the last 10 years could have been like, living in Dharma centers studying with people like Thich Nhat Hanh, living such a beautiful life, but instead I have been wasting away in bed. And he has past away now and I will never get the opportunity to study with him.

Thich Nhat Hanh would tell me that I’m in a great position to practice mindfulness right now in bed. Which is true in theory, but it is difficult for me to do with a mind that cannot think clearly or focus like my healthy mind can. What’s worse is my stress response which freaks out and causes mind crashes when I try to do things like meditate or even focus on my breath.

I guess I’m just mourning right now, for the loss of so much wisdom to this world, for the coming loss of his generation, and for the loss of my life being able to study and learn from people like him.

Sometimes it is ok to just mourn for the loss of your life. Sometimes it is ok to feel sad. We don’t need to be happy all the time to cope with this illness. That would be fake happiness. We should be real, and let ourselves feel what we feel.

The thing with mourning or sadness is just to not let it completely consume you and become your whole world and existence. In english we say “I am sad”. In Spanish they say “I have sadness”. Spanish is much more enlightened. Have your sadness, and then let it go and have something else. Sometimes, maybe you can even have happiness. ME/CFS doesn’t need to take that away from you. And it doesn’t need to consume your whole being and existence.

Thank you Thich Nhat Hanh for everything you gave this world. May you find your way through the Bardo realm quickly and easily and find a precious human rebirth in a healthy body that allows you to practice Buddhism again and share your enlightened mind with the world once more.



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